First-time Placer County voters ready for election

Proposition 30, social issues among concerns
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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Ashley Brown is bubbling over with excitement for her first chance to vote in the upcoming election.

The 21-year-old Sierra College student missed the chance to vote in the 2008 election by just three months and she has been itching to cast her ballot, particularly on the issues that matter most to her.

"Healthcare is huge," Brown said. "I really like the concept of Obamacare because I have MS and for now I'm on my parents insurance, but when I'm 26 and I have to get insurance of my own I want to be able to do so without being concerned about my preexisting condition."

Brown is one many first-time voters in Placer County. As of April, there were 17,051 voters between the ages of 17 and 24 in Placer County, according to the elections office.

The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming election was Monday and the Placer County Elections Office was still compiling information on the amount of new voters on Tuesday.

Brown and a crowd of fellow students packed Dietrich Theater on Sierra College's Rocklin campus on Tuesday to hear Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg speak about voting and some of the issues that could potentially impact students appearing on the ballot. Steinberg's speech was part of the Sierra College Political Science Club's Political Awareness Day, otherwise known as My Voice Counts.

The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act, or Proposition 30, was widely discussed by Steinberg.

"Proposition 30 is not just another proposition. For without its passage it will require another $300 million cut to the community college system automatically. In addition it will continue a lingering budget deficit of about $3 billion," Steinberg said.

If passed, Proposition 30 would increase the state sales tax to 7.5 percent. It also imposes a 10.3 percent tax rate on those who make $250,000, but less than $300,000 for seven years.

Those who make $300,000 and less than $500,000 would face an 11.3 percent tax rate and those who make between $500,000 and $1 million would pay a 12.3 percent tax rate. Those couples who make $1 million or more annually would face a 13.3 percent income tax.

Funds generated from Proposition 30 would go toward public education and safety, along with closing the state's budget deficit. Opponents of Proposition 30, like the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, feel that education is being used to get tax hikes passed and that more needs to be done before any increases are considered.

"Proposition 30 will increase the state sales tax, already the highest state sales tax in the nation. On top of that, personal income taxes will go up on upper income individuals, many of whom are the owners of the small business that provide the bulk of the jobs in our state," Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said in a statement on the entity's website.

Kelsie Sparks, 20, is a social and behavioral sciences major at Sierra College who believes Proposition 30 deserves the most attention on the November ballot, especially by community college students.

"I'm voting yes on Prop 30 because it directly impacts me and my fellow students at Sierra College," Sparks said.

Sparks said she will not be voting for Proposition 38, which has been brought forth by Molly Munger, a civil rights attorney. Proposition 38 would increase income tax rates on those earning $7,316 or more based on a sliding scale depending on an individual earner's pay.

Steinberg spoke only in favor of Proposition 30 at Tuesday's event and went as far as to call Munger's attempt to pass Proposition 38 "absurd" and "offensive."

"If people become confused by the two propositions, if Prop 30 loses, let me reiterate what the real life consequences are: Over $5 billion of cuts to K-12 education and higher education, three weeks off of the K-12 school year, over $300 million in cuts to community colleges," Steinberg said.

Greg Harnage, 22, is a history and humanities major at Sierra College and president of the political science club. He fears if Proposition 30 fails classes at Sierra will be cut back even further and he won't be able to get into the two classes he needs to graduate in May.

"If it fails, there is a good chance that classes, teachers and programs will be cut, so everything is on the chopping block right now," Harnage said.

Propositions 30 and 38 aren't the only issues new voters have concerns about. While Brown is worried about healthcare reform, she doesn't think other social issues should have to take a back seat.

Others in attendance on Tuesday were there because they are about to vote for the first time, but are unsure about the issues, like Kaylin Cappa, 20.

"That's why I'm here, to get more information because I feel like the media inflates a lot of stuff," Cappa said.

Steinberg said regardless of which way the students on Sierra College's campus or elsewhere in California vote on Nov. 6, he said making the effort and casting those votes in an informed manner is vital.

"I feel very strongly about the words of Winston Churchill in that democracy is the worst form of government, with the exception of every other form of government," Steinberg said. "I feel very strongly that there is no excuse for people not voting, and I believe that if you don't vote you don't count. Not literally, but in terms of making an impact on these crucial issues of public policy you really don't count."

Contact Amber Marra at Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.